At the Oct. 26 dress rehearsal at the Community Recreation Center of Roberta Jones Junior Theatre’s (RJJT) “Jack and the Beanstalk,” a boy named Jack Sprague planted magical seeds. When a beanstalk sprouted high into the sky, Jack climbed the beanstalk and discovered another world inhabited by the Giant, a scientist who specialized in mind control. The show runs through Nov. 5. (Visit rjjt.org for ticket information and other details.)
Smoothly playing the optimistic Jack Sprague was Jack Lingscheit, 12. Lingscheit demonstrated his agility during a high-speed chase scene that momentarily whisked him offstage with other cast members.
“I’m similar to Jack because I’m happy a lot of the time and I’m also different than Jack because I’m scared of heights so I’d never climb a beanstalk,” Lingscheit said.
A character unafraid of heights was the towering Giant, played by Olivia Orr, 14. Proving that giants don’t have to be scary, Orr portrayed the Giant as a quirky mad scientist who took joy in hosting the Giant’s Tango with his associates.
“I’m on stilts—they’re about two feet tall,” Orr said. “It took a lot of getting used to and practice to walk in them but it has gotten a lot easier. When I have the stilts on, I have on pants with wide ankles that go over the stilts and I wear my shoes.”
One of the Giant’s creations was the Golden Harp, played by Molly Bates, 15. Playing an inanimate object, Bates can stand perfectly still and also break into lively song and dance.
“My character is a nice addition to show how inventive the Giant is; he makes beautiful things and inventions,” Bates said.
What many people don’t know is that Kevin Cornelius, show producer and Recreation Supervisor for the Santa Clara City Parks and Recreation Department, once played the role of Jack Sprague in RJJT’s “Jack and the Beanstalk” when he was a junior high student years ago.
“The first time RJJT put on ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ in 1981, I played Jack,” Cornelius said. “It’s one of my personal favorite shows. It’s very funny. It’s got something to appeal to little kids and to adults. I have lots of memories of being in the show once, producing it three times and directing it one time.”
Cornelius noted that other production members for this current show have also participated as cast members for RJJT’s “Jack and the Beanstalk” in the various times the show has run in past years.
“Our musical director Kathy Smith was a vocal director and pianist for all of the ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ productions here at RJJT in 1981, 1991, 1997, 2003, 2010 and 2017,” Cornelius said. “The director for this show is Jen Kohler; when she was in high school and RJJT did this show, she played the role of the Golden Goose. Our choreographer is Trisha Cooley. When she was in this show as a child, she played a beanstalk person.”
“I was in the show twice—during the first fall show I was in when I was eight and again when I was 13,” Cooley said. “When I was eight, I was one of the village children and one of the beanstalk people. When I was in it the second time, I played Jack’s mother. We’ve always loved doing the tambourines with our tap numbers. It’s fun to come back to a show we’ve done before.”